Treatment of Women throughout Othello

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Treatment of Women throughout Othello Lamentably, sexism raises its ugly head even in such an unquestionably great tragedy as William Shakespeare’s Othello. Let us pursue a study of the problem in this essay. In William Shakespeare: The Tragedies, Paul A. Jorgensen describes the sexist “brothel scene” in Othello: The “brothel scene” (4.2), sadistically cruel because in it he talks to Desdemona as to a whore, is yet full of tearful agony and even ardent tenderness. It redeems him in his wish that heaven were trying him with affliction – a theologically saving belief; and it opens momentarily his heart when he sees his worst affliction – without which he could bear the ordeal – being discarded from “there where I have garnered up my heart” (4.2.57). (65) In the opening scene, while Iago is expressing his hatred for the general Othello for his selection of Michael Cassio for the lieutenancy, he contrives a plan to partially avenge himself (“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”), with Roderigo’s assistance, by alerting Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, to the fact of his daughter’s elopement with Othello: “Call up her father, / Rouse him: make after him, poison his delight [. . .] .” Implied in this move is the fact of a father’s assumed control over the daughter’s choice of a marriage partner. Iago’s warning to the senator follows closely: “'Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on your gown; / Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.” This statement also implies that the father has authority over the daughter. Brabantio’s admonition to Roderigo implicitly expresses the same message: The worser welcome: I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors: ... ... middle of paper ... ... lie; Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie. She false with Cassio! (5.2) Then she accuses him of causing murder: “And your reports have set the murder on.” Emilia’s stunning interrogation and conviction of her own husband as the evil mastermind behind the murder reverses the sexist image of women underlying the play. Her performance proves that women are guided by reason to the same extent, or even greater than, men; and that men are passion-driven moreso than are women. The tables are turned on sexism at the very climax of the drama! WORKS CITED Jorgensen, Paul A. William Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985. Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.
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